Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD, Dáil leader & spokesperson on Health & Children

18 February, 2006

Policy Document: Health in an Ireland of Equals

Ar son an Ard Chomhairle ba mhaith liom Rún 174 agus ár bpolasai nua sláinte a mholadh don Ard Fheis. Céim chun tosaigh atá sa pholasai seo. Tá sé bunaithe ar chearta daonna, an ceart atá ag gach duine sa tir chun seirbhis sláinte.

On behalf of the Ard Chomhairle I formally propose Motion 174 and urge your full support for Sinn Féin's new and expanded health policy. I want to commend all those who have worked on this policy which is well-researched, well-argued and well-presented. This policy is both a programme for change and a call to action. It is a campaigning document and we will be bringing it to communities the length and breadth of this island as we demand the right to healthcare in an Ireland of Equals.

I don't have to detail for Sinn Féin delegates here or for those viewing the Ard Fheis at home the reality of the crisis in our health services. Almost every day so far in 2006 we have had over 300 people on trolleys in our Accident and Emergency units. In the Dáil recently my colleague Seán Crowe TD highlighted the case of two people in Tallaght Hospital - one who spent eight days and nights on a trolley and the other who spent 7 days and nights. That is a shame and a disgrace in one of the wealthiest economies in the world.

Up and down the 26 Counties people are fighting to retain services in local hospitals. They are being told these services are not viable. But if you are a private property speculator who wants to avoid tax by developing a private hospital you will get a massive tax break from the Fianna Fáil/PD government no matter where you locate your profit-driven facility. And they are actually extending these tax breaks as we speak.

Bertie Ahern and Mary Harney are reinforcing the grossly unequal, unfair and inefficient two-tier, public-private health system in this State. We reject that system where people with wealth are guaranteed access to the best private services while others must suffer on trolleys and in queues.

With this progressive and comprehensive policy Sinn Féin is presenting the real alternative. We are proposing root and branch reform, the establishment of an all-Ireland health service with access based on need and not on ability to pay or geographic location. We want access for all, free at the point of delivery in an equitable system funded by fair and progressive taxation.

I commend all those campaigning throughout the country in support of our public health services, including local hospitals where services have been cut or are under threat. Sinn Féin activists are to the fore in those campaigns. We stand with communities and we demand the restoration of services and the development of public health facilities that are accessible to all who need them.

This party has for long fought against second-class citizenship in any form. Health is a right. Rights are won by those who are prepared to stand up and campaign for them. Let us leave this Ard Fheis equipped with this radical and relevant policy and let us reinvigorate the campaign for Health in an Ireland of Equals.

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